Very long-chain fatty acids found to block SARS-CoV-2 infection

Researchers have shown that omega-3 very long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids can block SARS-CoV-2 and protect lung cells. 

SARS-CoV-2 in lungs

Research conducted at Louisiana State University (LSU) Health, US, reports that Elovanoids (ELVs), bioactive chemical messengers made from omega-3 very long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (VLC-PUFAs), may block SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, from entering cells and protect the air cells (alveoli) of the lung. 

“Because the compounds are protective against damage in the brain and retina of the eye and the COVID-19 virus clearly damages the lung, the experiment tested if the compounds would also protect the lung,” said Dr Nicolas Bazan, senior author of the paper.

The research team tested ELVs on infected lung tissue from a patient in petri dish cultures. They found that ELVs not only reduced the ability of the SARS-CoV-2 Spike (S) protein to bind to receptors and enter cells, but they also triggered the production of protective, anti-inflammatory proteins that counteract lung damage.

The scientists report that ELVs decreased the production of angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2), a protein on the surface of many cell types. ACE2 receptors act like locks on cells and the SARS-CoV-2 S proteins act like keys that open the locks, letting the virus enter cells to multiply rapidly. They also demonstrated for the first time that alveolar cells are endowed with pathways for the biosynthesis of ELVs.

“Since SARS-CoV-2 affects nasal mucosa, the gastrointestinal (GI) tract, the eye and the nervous system (CNS), uncovering the protective potential of ELVs expands the scope of our observations beyond the lung,” said Bazan. “Our results provide a foundation for interventions to modify disease risk, progression and protection of the lung from COVID-19 or other pathologies – including some types of pneumonia.”

Their findings are published in Scientific Reports.